Lots of interesting topics on the readers' minds this time

The "other" Venezuelan telecommunications story

Upon reading in Venezuelanalysis.com about how Chávez has nationalized the telecom company and immediately anounced 20% cost cuts for phone service, both land line and cellular, I was duly impressed. After having witnessed Cable and Wireless's lack of dedication to public interest, I would only hope that Torrijos could do the same.

But having witnessed so many of his other moves, up to and including the nepotistic granting of state controlled land to family members, I'm sure that is nothing more than wishful thinking. Mireya was bad enough, but since Martín, the general cost of living, impuestos, fines, fees, etc have risen dramatically. There is obviously not the slightest bit of interest in improving the general welfare of the country. I see big time public works projects, some necessary, some just easy money for political cronies. If you're not on the same political team, don't hold your breath waiting for government assistance. So far, right from the get go, I am not impressed.

Maybe I'll take a trip across the pond to Venezuela and see for myself what's going on over there. Seems like there may be someone with a solid dose of inspiration at work over there despite all the bad press from this end. 

name withheld

Chávez and RCTV

Really sad to read about your stand on the subject.

How a man of your ntelligence can support anything that the dictator would be in favor of is just plain incomprehensible.



Once again, I am absolutely astonished by your incredible productivity. Wish I had an employee like you back when I was a newspaper editor --- though I suspect I'd probably have needed to hire a few extra  fact-checkers!

Just stay out of jail.

Peter Myers


Editor's note: It would be nice to have some fact-checkers and proofreaders here, but at this point it would have to be a volunteer labor of love. Although I don't like the egotistical attitudes of so many journalists who pretend they're infallable and I admit my errors when they are pointed out, it's much better to catch mistakes early than to run corrections later.


Please may I echo the sentiments of the former Peace Corp volunteer who wrote a letter entitled "What to do about Noriega?" (see "letters" - vol 13 issue 10).

That gentleman hit the nail right on the head when he stated that "the reason the USA does not want Noriega speaking freely in Panama is that he knows way too much."

Noriega's return to Panama would prove embarrassing for the Panamanian government, and to Martin Torrijos in particular, who would much prefer not to have to deal with the dictator's return. The fact that Martín's own father was both a dictator, as well as a mentor to Noriega, makes it even more uncomfortable for him.

However rest assured, Noriega will never stand trial in Panama for his crimes, nor will he ever be held accountable for the countless Panamanians who were tortured, jailed, murdered or who simply "vanished in the night."

Just like Pinochet in Chile, Noriega will grow old gracefully, whilst any proposed court proceedings drag on and on and on, without actually resulting in a prosecution.

Actually, in the case of Pinochet it proved quite embarrassing for the Chilean government that he lived for so long, i.e., to 91 years of age.  They really had to drag the proceedings out on that one to avoid Pinochet standing trial.

I suspect that both the US and Panama must be hoping that Noriega's lifespan will be considerably shorter.

Noriega might be guilt of many crimes, but he will never stand trial in Panama.

Old Man Blanco

Editor's note: Actually, the dictatorship's victims are not "countless." The body count of those killed or disappeared and presumed killed stands at a little more than 100, which, even if this is a tiny fraction of those killed in the political violence that has afflicted many of our Latin American neighbors, is totally outrageous.

Didn't care for the Falwell editorial

"Rejoicing over the death, or anticipated death, of a political foe is not only rude, it's a symbol of how vicious American politics have become."

"... Falwell was one of the architects of that viciousness."

Democracy is a very convenient word... Isn't it?

Overall, The Panama News serves a good purpose to its bilingual Panama readers here in the US and abroad, as a source of an opposition news media.

At least for many retirees' entertainment and leisure to read "the other side" of politics in Panama. And as a matter of fact, you are quoted very often by our "Retirees Pen-Pal Bloggers"... which should get you some more tourism advertisers as you become more popular as "The Rosie O'Donnell" of Panama. Just Kidding.

But there you go again Eric. It is particularly difficult when it would appear that you are contradicting yourself by precisely rejoicing --- while editorializing --- over the death of the Reverend Jerry Falwell, a respectable preacher who believed in his religion (Sodom and Gomorrah of Gen.19:24) as much as the communists believe in their "ideology" that "Religion is the opiate of the people." Perhaps that's what you had in mind?

When the Rev. Falwell asked me to vote for President Reagan, he was very convincing. And I did. Amen.

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

As a lawyer, will you accept that universal Declaration? Then make it known that you personally differ with your adversary's opinion.. But don't try to castrate the dead over political emotions. For Christ's sake, man. And let me say, THE PANAMA NEWS is never boring, even while punching below the belt at times to make it happen.

Have a good day Hermano Lobo.

Art Hassan

Los Angeles, California

Editor's note: I really didn't rejoice over Reverend Falwell's untimely death, but in that editorial I did try to soberly take a look at the things he stood for and his place in history. And while Karl Marx is said to have remarked that "religion is the opiate of the masses," the hippie radicals with whom I ran as a teenager turned it around, maintaining that "opiates are the religion of the masses." Bad theology either way, I think.

Re: You smell it before you see it

I really liked that piece of reality you offered about the "raw sewage" on the sidewalk in El Cangrejo.

Ah, there is nothing more inspiring and stimulating than the sight and smell of raw sewage baking on a concrete sidewalk, in the 105 degree Fahrenheit tropical sun. No wonder investors are scrambling to pickup real estate bargains in the fine city of Panama.

It appears that Panama city dwellers have a very high tolerance for other peoples poop and pee. But hay, if its good enough for a sophisticated and educated gentleman like El Presidente Torrijos, its good enough for me. To be more specific, I'm referring to my soon to be new home in Panama City. However, out of respect, I will do my best not too publicly share my waste with my new neighbors. It really stinks to be inconsiderate.

Darryl Christianson

Boise, Idaho

Editor's note: Well, the sewage was gross enough, but it hasn't gotten up to 105º in Panama City in my memory.

An open letter to the mayor

On a recent Wednesday afternoon, I was returning to my home in Cangrejo. Just outside of the entrance to the University of Panama, I was stopped by rioting students. They were protesting something and during the disturbance they began throwing rocks through the windows of my car. Almost $2,000 of damage was caused by these students and I was fortunate not to be badly injured.

All of Panama is affected by this anarchy. While the municipal police were standing by and simply watching from a safe distance, Panama citizens and tourists were being accosted by these rioters. Non-violent protests may be an effective method to bring attention to their complaints, but when they become violent, they are no longer students, they are criminals.

Panama is currently in a boom economy driven by the influx of American and Canadian retirees and those simply wanting to live in an off-shore location. Safety is a paramount ingredient in their choice of a suitable location. If Panama chooses not to enforce their laws and contain such violence, Panama will no longer be a choice destination. It is obvious that the construction and sale of the luxury condos and resort communities are dependent on foreign buyers. The moment that Panama becomes less attractive and perceived as dangerous, the bubble will burst and all of Panama will suffer. The projects will fail and that will have a snowball effect on the banking system and the entire Panamanian economy. The construction boom has fueled the economy and created thousand of new jobs. The ultimate relocation of these foreigners into Panama will bring in millions of dollars annually into the economy.

Allowing the students to foment violence, upon the public, and allowing the University of Panama to protect those students, flies, in the face of logic. Change must occur before it is too late.

I have always been an unabashed promoter of the wonderful county of Panama. I chose to live here because I do love the country. Although it is not perfect, it has been, in balance, a great place to live. I fear that Panama will suffer greatly, if such actions, by a small group of its young, are allowed to act out violently, without appropriate punishment.

I also believe that the city of Panama and the University of Panama are liable for damages done by the students. Police protection was non-existent and the policy of the University to protect and essentially encourage such civil disobedience make each liable.

Lee Lukes

Brits disrespect God's creation

Recently the British government, in violation of European law, overturned its ban on the creation of human-animal embryos.

The draft of the Human Tissue and Embryos Bill would allow scientists to create a chimeric embryo by injecting cells from an animal into a human embryo, and a human transgenic embryo by injecting animal DNA into a human embryo. The first somatic cell nuclear transfers is named after the chimera --- the fire-breathing female monster of Greek mythology who had a lion's head, a goat's body, and a serpent's tail.

On a biological level the pre-natal being is not like any other tissue: it is human with its own DNA indicating that, as a human, it has the same fundamental and moral right to life as any other human being. The proposed therapy performed on early human embryos is immoral because it alters forever the basic genetic constitution of the person and all of his or her future offspring.

Amazingly, though embryonic stem cell experiments have failed to produce a single, unqualified, therapeutic success, even in animal models, supporters of the embryonic model continue to laud their unproven and currently unethical methods and ignore the fact that adult stem cell therapies are being used extensively today in treating diseases.

We must help those who are suffering, but we may not use a good end to justify an evil means. Human beings are not raw materials to be exploited or commodities that can be bought and sold. To suggest otherwise is to endorse a macabre interpretation of progress. Pure and simple this latest method of genetic manipulation is nothing more than Frankenstein science.

Paul Kokoski

Hamilton, Ontario

Edtior's note: When I first heard of this decision in the UK, the first thing that came to my warped mind was the final scene in The Fly --- "Help meeee.... Help meeee!" 

Are your papers in order?

I found out yesterday that the government has implemented new and really absurd regulations for the importation of a small amount of vitamins or prescription drugs. This is apparently in response to the deaths likely caused by the failure to adequately test the bulk quantities received from China that resulted in so many deaths. This really has nothing to do with that but looks like another CYA to look like they are doing something.

I believe this will be a major negative for retires coming to Panama. I for one receive a number of prescription drugs from the US every month and I know many others who do likewise and also order vitamins and minerals for their personal use.  It is none of some bureaucrat's business what I put in my body or why. This is intrusive beyond words and should not stand.

Additionally it will result in increased costs to the consumer because the courier services will be forced to charge every time they have to deal with this at the Aduana.

Here are the paperwork and the items you need to have on file with the courier service:


·        Copy of the Invoice

·        Letter signed explaining what the medicine is and what it is for

·        Copy of passport or Pensionado card

·        Name of vitamins

Prescription Medicines:

·        Invoice

·        Letter signed explaining what the medicine is and what it is for

·        Copy of passport or Pensionado card

·        Copy of Doctors Prescription




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